Discover the inspiring stories of successful Mompreneurs who have defied the odds to build thriving companies while also raising their children. Gain insights on the balance they’ve achieved between nurturing their businesses and their families.
Topics covered in the interview
Estelle Giraud, founder of Trellis Health
Jordan Scott, Founder and CEO of Cobble
Bernadette Butler, Fo-founder of StoryTap Technologies
Estelle Giraud is a PhD scientist (population genetics) turned commercial operator and leader in biotech and frontier medicine @Illumina, and now turned founder.
Also a mother and woman founder, Estelle has had to navigate the change and challenges that come with this journey. She is deeply excited and scared by the rise of (big) data in healthcare and wellness, and passionate about creating a better healthcare system from the ground up, especially for individuals.
Estelle believes people don’t neatly fit in single boxes, and some of the most interesting insights about people and the world come from the unplanned intersections. She brings authenticity and openness to tough conversations about the hard problems we face, and thrives in finding new understanding through conversation.
Jordan Scott is a decision-making entrepreneur and content creator. She is the Founder & CEO of Cobble, an app designed to help people make better, faster decisions together.
Jordan graduated from NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study in 2015. She began her career as a news associate at CBS This Morning before launching her startup.
Jordan has been profiled in the New York Times, Forbes, FOX 5 Good Day New York, and more. She has won the NYU & New York Jets No Huddle Challenge and Entrepreneur Magazine’s LIVE 5-minute pitch competition.
To date, Jordan has raised $3.3 million in seed funding, growing Cobble to tens of thousands of users who have swiped over 2M times on curated places and experiences in-app. Cobble is quickly expanding to new cities, optimizing decision-making functionality, and more.
Bernadette Butler is the co-founder of StoryTap Technologies, a video production company which has created and placed brand inspired videos that amass MILLIONS of views. She has been in the industry for 25 years and she brings a focus of empathy to her company culture. After creating a financial book club that grew to 500 members across 6 countries, Bernadette created StoryTap Technologies to be the first agency of its kind to make videos for brands, companies, and social media that share perspectives and experiences from across the world.
As a company, StoryTap Technologies aims to increase brand conversion by 40% and decrease call center volume by the same amount. They have worked with over 20 enterprise customers such as Veet, KY, and UCLA, and the impact of their videos is felt globally. StoryTap creates data driven videos to scale and emphasizes the need for recession proof videos. They believe in using customers as advocates via video content for brands to tell their story. As a company StoryTap donates to the local food bank each year and they offer free services to nonprofits. They help refine brand websites with more video content and reduced typed clutter.
Website – https://storytap.com/
LinkedIn – linkedin.com/in/butlerbernadette/
Facebook – www.facebook.com/storytap/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/storytapvideo?lang=en
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/storytapvideo/?hl=en
This is Raw and Real Entrepreneurship, the show that brings the no nonsense truth of what is required to start, grow and scale your business. I am your host, Susan Sly.
What is up Raw and Real Entrepreneurs wherever you are in the world, I hope you're having an amazing day. And I have a question for you. Did you know that less than 2% of tech startups in the United States have at least one female co founder? And did you know that startups with women co founders are 62% more profitable than male-only-led startups? And so here we are, and we know the stats, and yet fewer than two and a half percent of women-lead pitches to VCs get funded. We know women are amazing, and we know diverse teams do well whether it's diverse in terms of gender, diverse in terms of culture, diverse in terms of views, they're just more successful when you have different points of view. And yet things are not changing fast enough. And so with that, because it's Mother's Day here in the United States and Canada and many places in the world, our team said, Hey, let's take this time and showcase some of the mompreneurs that I have interviewed in the hundreds of interviews I've done. And these are women who are raising children, who are growing companies, they're fundraising, they're juggling it all, they're doing it all, and they're incredible. And so this episode is going to have some of the high points of those interviews. And I would encourage you, if you didn't hear the whole interview, go back, listen to it. And the other thing is, if you haven't done so, please go and leave a five star review. I read all of your reviews. And if you leave a five star review, and then email reviews, with an s, at susansly.com, and I read your review on air, we will give you a $50 amazon gift card. And if you have a burning question about entrepreneurship, about funding, about your startup, about ideation, about mindset, whatever it is, go to info@Susansly.com and submit your question because I would love to answer your questions. It's fun for me. I've been an entrepreneur for oh my gosh, it's going to be 40 years this year. It's crazy. Anyway, with that, I would encourage you, enjoy the show. Take notes. These are phenomenal women. And again, if you haven't left a review, I love to have a great review. And with that, let's hear from these amazing mompreneurs.
This is Raw and Real entrepreneurship.
My guest today, I was so excited to get this application because I went, like everything about her. She has a PhD in population genetics. And what she doesn't know is in my undergrad, Genetics was my favorite core. So if we talk about Punnett squares, just like we might geek out, I apologize. Some of you like it I know. Then she turned commercial operator and leader in biotech and frontier medicine. And now she has become a founder of Trellis health. She is a mother of a toddler and like, if you were on the treadmill or driving your car, just keep one hand on the wheel one hand on the side of the treadmill just but like, you know moms, dads, out there grandmas, grandpas like, give her a virtual fist bump because the toddlers are, that's like, an intense multiplier right there. That is not a linear equation. That is like, it's like having three children at one time. And she believes that people don't neatly fit in single boxes, which is awesome. And, you know, we're going to talk about today, bleeding Edge Technology. We're going to talk about what it takes to start a company during a recession, what it's like to go out there and do fundraising and show up as your best self every single day when you've been changing nappies or diapers, depending on which side of the pond you're on, you know and haven't slept or you have a child at home who's sick. That was my week this week. So with that, I have the expressed pleasure to introduce the one and only Estelle Giraud. Estelle, thank you for being here on Raw and Real Entrepreneurship.
Susan, I cannot thank you enough for that introduction. It was amazing.
So Estelle, let's talk about Trellis. This, you know, when I was on the Trellis website, I mean, there were so, one of the things I look at as a tech founder is what is the emotional response in engaging with tech and words like warm, welcoming, user friendly, so tell us about Trellis.
Yes, So, as you said in the introduction, I'm a scientist by training. I have devoted my career to medicine. And I'm an optimist. I really believe that the future of medicine is bright, and is going to undergo a revolution in the next decade. At the same time, I saw just again, and again and again, in my corporate kind of career pre Trellis, some of the systematic issues that we have with realizing that vision and the fact that it's kind of broken at its lowest foundational level, and I don't see, I don't see us getting to the future that we need to unless we kind of re architect that bottom layer of healthcare and really put the patient, the person, the consumer, the woman, whoever that is, like front and center, in that. And this gets a lot of lip service in the industry. You know, people talk about patient centric care and putting the patient at the center of the healthcare and at the center of their data and kind of all of these things. But when you look across the industry, there's not many people, especially within hospitals, or big payers that are actually doing that, and really kind of thinking about what does it mean to have somebody in control of their own health and their own destiny and feel supported in doing that. And so, you know, this is kind of glossing over this stuff, as I'm happy to dig deeper and in Trellis Health, but part of what we're trying to do is empower women specifically, to really be empowered in that journey. We're starting with pregnancy for a number of specific reasons. But part of that was my own experience through pregnancy. You know, I was already passionate about this field that was already working in kind of Frontier medicine. And I became pregnant. And I was like, What is this? This is not the experience that I was expecting. And I spoke to dozens of women and you know, my care team was fabulous. I have nothing against my care team. But the amount of responsibility that you take for your health, the kind of overwhelming nature of that. I had hypotension, I had postpartum preeclampsia. And these are not uncommon things. These are, you know, this, we're talking about 30 plus percent of pregnancies. And we don't even know what causes preeclampsia, like there is so much work to be done in women's health. And so that's where we're starting. And obviously, the aim is to grow beyond that for everybody, but really approaching it from the very beginning of a lens of what is this consumer experience look like? And consumer, I don't believe is the dirty word in healthcare. I think people push back on that a lot. But the future of medicine and the next generation coming through is going to demand a different health care experience.
So well said. And I don't think consumer is the wrong word either. Because the reality is that health care is a pay to play model. And even in Canada, where I'm from, if you want other services, or complementary services, you are going to pay for those services. Even in France, socialized medicine, there is a pay to play. So if there is a choice and a path, and there's a way to take confusion out of that choice in that path, backed by science, then it's fantastic. And I think, you know, as I was looking at Trellis, one of the things that came to mind is especially for women who are getting pregnant, and they've miscarried before or miscarried a couple of times before, there was a big article that just came out, Jennifer Aniston was talking about her journey with IVF. And people say oh, she just didn't want to have a child and we're seeing other people who are in the media, in the news, talking about, openly about miscarriages or late term miscarriages and I know. I had a miscarriage going into my second trimester and then when I got pregnant the next time, I was frightened because it was every day I was wondering and I was questioning. And I love that you're starting with pregnancy. I love that. It's so needed. So obviously your beachhead, in the you know, in this you know, startup speed, we call it the beachhead market is pregnancy. There's a no end of potential consumers in that market. But where would you see trellis going after that?
Yeah. So I'll step back for a second and say that when I left my corporate job in biotech right before the pandemic, and the vision of, you know, building in this space initially was this utopia of everybody has all of their health data at their fingertips, in their pocket, every vaccine you've ever had from birth, you can take that information anywhere you want to go, and on that really clean, comprehensive longitudinal data set, you can start to build AI, and really kind of get to precision medicine and kind of data driven medicine, because we will never get there, really, unless we have good data to start with. And there's, you know, we can talk about all of the layers of problems and in healthcare today, and the bias in the way that research is done, and you name it, those problems exist in healthcare. But this utopia is, it's such a well trodden path of companies trying to build this. So everybody from Google, you know, I don't know, if you or your listeners remember, but Google had Google Health 10 years ago, 10 plus years ago, and it was a personal health record that people were kind of supposed to build out themselves. Microsoft has tried this, startups have tried this, everybody's kind of been searching for this utopia. And, you know, I see that future. I, just because others have tried it and failed, doesn't mean that that is not a future that we can have and we can build. I'm very comfortable being contrary about that and ambitious about that goal. But I think where people have failed before is firstly understanding the timing, like what are the real kind of inflection points and factors that go into making that a reality? And then, like, you say, what is the beachhead? What is the right beachhead to enable that, and particularly when you're talking about a consumer business and a personal health record at its core is should be an is focused on a consumer, you need to be so laser focused on what is the right beachhead for that, and nobody has looked at pregnancy or women's health before. And for so many reasons, this is the right place to start. To name a couple of them, you know, women are the chief medical officers of the family in so many instances. Especially these kind of, you know, 20 to 40 year old women or even a little bit older, you get sandwiched in between taking care of children and taking care of parents at the same time, making decisions for the family in terms of medical care. You know, the doctors, you know the dentist, you know all of this. Women are also responsible for making 80 plus percent of consumer buying decisions. So if you talk about, you know, where does the money, where does the power come from, and the economics of consumer buying, its women. The other thing is, you're talking about changing really hard problems in healthcare, and re architecting this data, and if the utopia is built from birth, it takes so much more energy to fix that than it does to build it right from the beginning. And so we envision this being a platform for the children of these pregnancies. Then, to have that record built from birth, we're kind of changing it from now moving forward, and this is a long game, right? Like this isn't going to happen overnight. But if we can give the gift of better health, more predictive health and better health records from birth to the next generation, my bet is that women are, women who are building that generation are willing to put in the the effort or the time to build that as a gift for their children as well, and to create a better future for them.
This is Raw and Real Entrepreneurship. There's this whole interesting dichotomy happening right now in my opinion with the news right? So you go on CNN and their talk- and CNBC and they're talking about How there's not enough companies going public, but then they're also talking about a recession. And then they're talking about entrepreneurial failure rates. And it's if you, if you focus on that, there's a saying what you focus on you find, you're never going to do anything. You're going to have entrepreneurial paralysis. And that's why I'm so excited about my guest today, because she definitely doesn't have that. She's been featured in Forbes, New York Times, Good Morning, New York, amongst others. And her venture, which is called Cobble, which is so freakin cool, helps you make better decisions. It might not help us with our mutual passion for acquisition of books, that's a whole other story. But she's raised 3.3 million plus, in seed funding. The app has had 10s of 1000s of swipes and growing but one of the most fun things is she's already achieved something on my bucket list, which is to ring the bell at the New York Stock Exchange. So my guest today is the founder of Cobble, the amazing, the one and only the mom of the seven month old, Jordan Scott. Jordan, thank you for being here.
Oh, my Susan, I'm literally, I have chills, that was so beautiful and so flattering. Thank you so much. I'm so excited to talk to you for a million reasons. But the fact that you have four kids, which I can't even imagine it, while running a business is, that is the dream. And I think, you know, we'll see, we're taking one kid at a time. But that's amazing.
We'll talk about entrepreneurship. But the thing I will tell you is that one of the things my husband and I are super grateful for as we decided to space the kids out. And I think it was because Jordan, he's a CPA we looked at, you know, we looked at it not just from a love point of view, and we want to be available. I wanted to get to know the kids as individuals. And I kind of felt like if we had them all close together, they'd just be like a pack and they'd overwhelm us, right? So we decided to spread the kids out three plus years each. And then we also looked at, did we want to have three kids in college at the same time, financially? And the answer was, heck, no. And so even car insurance for our 17 year old, that's a whole other story that it's been amazing because knowing them as individuals, they all have their own individual personalities, but also from the fact that it allowed my body as a woman to heal because it takes 32 months for your hormones to bounce back after having a baby.
Oh my Well, that certainly makes me feel better as I sit over here seven months later, like why am I not feeling 100% normal again? Well, okay, 32 months. Sounds good. Wow, that's incredible. I haven't-
And you're building a company, he's seven month old Like, seriously.
Yeah, and we're, you know, this is the year that we raise our Series A and so that's that's a big endeavor as well. I know, you mentioned what, what you guys are going through with your fundraising situation. But yeah, it's definitely something that requires a lot of time and energy and focus. And I often have been thinking about, like, I think a big fear that women have, women founders, women entrepreneurs, is if I have a baby, like my whole brain is going to change, and I'm not even going to be interested in my business anymore. And all I'm gonna want to do is be with my baby and da da da. And I just found, and it was certainly a fear of mine while I was pregnant. Everyone would tell me like you don't even know what's going to happen to you. And it was like the scary thing. I really feel like, since I had her, I have been less stressed about the company, it sort of has like shifted my perspective and my priorities for sure. But I actually feel like anxiety that's lifted off my shoulders around the business because I know that my daughter is the thing that actually really matters. Like you are not your company. But your child who is relying on you, that is worthy of like, a ton of time and energy. It's actually made me a better leader is long story short, like because there's less anxiety and less pressure. Like I feel like I can show up for my team in a stronger, a little bit more even keeled way and it's more fun again, and like I don't know, I just think that becoming a mom actually has made me better at running this business. And it also is sort of just like, hopefully if you also feel like more motivated to do well and be successful because now you have this little person that like gets to see that and it's just different. It's different than doing it for yourself.
I'm so curious Jordan like what was the hardest part for you deuring that time? You know, is it you know, even just before you had your daughter building the company and then suddenly have this newborn. What was the hardest thing you had to endure?
Yeah, I mean, several Right. Like I took a three week mentor anybody leave? And-
Did you really take like, did you really like totally unplug?
I was, like peeking at my Slack the day I gave birth, but I did not do any work, I did not join a single call, I really, really tried to take those three weeks. But I'm glad that I was the first in my company to have a baby. Our CFO had a baby, actually a couple months before, but she's still like our sort of fractional CFO, she has full time job, they gave her six months of maternity leave. So she was all good on her side. And of course, Cobble was like, take whatever time you need. But it was important for me to like really go through that, to know what a woman needs. As you know, the company continues to grow and we hire more women, women who are becoming mothers, whatever. Because now it's like, you just have this perspective that you just couldn't possibly have otherwise, whether you're a woman who's deciding they want to wait to have kids or not have kids or you're a man who just like being a dad, just different. So I'm grateful that I saw what that looked like. And sort of like what I think would have been better for me, what would have been worse how I, you know, I, when I went back, I sort of went halfway back. And then I slowly added up, like, I thought that was really great. But three weeks is not long enough for maternity leave, I recognize that, and would never ask anyone else to take that little time.
I love that we're having this conversation because they're, you know, I listen to podcasts every single day. I listen to friends' shows I listen to entrepreneurial podcasts. And there's a lot of conversation about how do you find the right VC? Or how did you you know, find your first customer? Like, let's, having that discussion, the raw and real aspect is like, how do you get through the day when you're exhausted? You know, man, woman when you're feeling, men have hormonal issues too. It's real, adropause is real. So how do you get through the day? So when when you were going through that, How did you get through the day? Because you would have had meetings, you have staff that rely on you, like, how did you get through?
Yeah, I mean, I think that for me, during that time, it was very much just like, get to your computer and like, join the meeting and try to be as present as possible. And then otherwise, it was like just survive. Like that's, that's it. I think, something that I tried to do, whether it was like that really tough week, or just anytime you're feeling ups and downs throughout the day, throughout the week, whatever is I just, if I have this overwhelming to do list, I try to pick the thing that's really bothering me, and you know, the thing that's really bothering you, maybe it's like a piece of work you have to do or it's conversation you don't feel like having with someone or whatever it might be, you just have to start it. So if it's a big, you know, you have to edit a whole podcast, for example, it's like, I would take my phone and set a timer for 20 minutes. And I would just, even if it was like staring at my screen, looking at the problem and like moving something around for 20 minutes, I did my 20 minutes, I chipped a little bit away at it. Or maybe it's like setting up the meeting with that person. It's like you took steps toward making it better. And what would often happen is you go beyond that 20 minutes. You actually finish it or you make a really good dent in it or whatever. I was recently listening to something with Jerry Seinfeld. And he very accurately said, you know, there's only two things that take away stress and anxiety. And that is a- working. Doing the work that is of the thing that is giving you stress and anxiety and b- exercise. And that's it. And I was like, wow, I think he's right. I pretty much always feel better after doing one of those two things.
Yeah. And it's that productivity piece. It's like what stresses us out so much is thinking about taking the action, as opposed to taking the action and setting the timer, that is so key. And there was, even this morning, we have all of these projects. So as the, as Jordan and I are recording the show, at Radius, we're getting ready for the National Retail Federation, big show. There are 30,000 people that come to that show, and we have a booth and we were picked from hundreds of different startups to be in the Lenovo Innovation Zone, Lenovo and Nvidia. And so there's a lot that goes into it. We're doing live artificial intelligence through computer vision. Most people just play a video. We're actually going to do it which is insane and fun. And so there's, you know, people people are like, we're packing servers with cameras. We're doing all of this stuff. And in the middle of it we're also doing a branding refresh. We have new video content, there's all these things. And so it was the same thing this morning, Jordan I was like, Okay, I got up. I prayed. I meditated, had my black Coffee, I sent my husband and kids all gratitude notes. And every morning I do that, and when they were little, I used to handwrite them on post-its before they got phones. And so then, and some days, it's harder to send one to my husband, I'm just gonna be candid, together 23 years and known each other for like, 37. Right? So I like Gosh, anyway, so um, did all that. Then I went to the gym. And then I took my daughter, I returned Slacks and emails, took my daughter to school, the youngest one. And then I came back and this thing, I was like, Oh, I don't really want to do it. But I, I had done all that other stuff, set my timer, and I just sat down, and I did it. And to that point, that is, are you showing up as a founder, Right? Do you have your founder hat on, because an employee will call in sick, but the founder doesn't. And so speaking of that, let me ask you this question. So how did the idea for Cobble come about?
Okay, amazing. So basically, I, like so many of us in relationships, I was just really tired of going back and forth around what we were eating for dinner. I just felt like this conversation happen every single night of like, what do you want to do? I don't know, what do you want to do? And we either ended up doing what we always do, cooking the same thing, or like going to the same places, or somehow we would spend so much time discussing it that like, we wouldn't even do anything at all. And so I was really curious about what was out there for decision making and like, aiding people in making decisions together. And I come from a journalism background. So I am obsessed with great content and great ideas. And I just wanted to combine great content with decisioning tools. And of course, our biggest sort of hypothesis is that people don't make decisions completely by themselves. If you're in a relationship, or you're going out with friends, or we're social people. We don't make decisions in a vacuum, we make decisions with other people. So what does a platform look like? That connects you with your closest relationships, puts great content in front of you, and actually helps you follow through on that content and go do the thing. And that's all rooted in collaboratively agreeing. And so that's what we built with Cobble. It was initially focused on couples because again, it was me and my husband, then boyfriend now husband. And we were sort of interested in like being super targeted at couples. And feeling like there wasn't a ton of stuff out there post dating app, of course, you know, it was always how to find someone, it wasn't like how to like nurture a relationship. So with that being our launch, we had a pretty strong launch, there was a lot of interest. We raised our seed round, right around that time, of course, it was the middle of a pandemic. I think we sort of represented a reemergence from the pandemic, people were like, oh, one day, we'll go out again, and like, we'll be with our people. And so it was sort of a good time to raise, at least for us. And then we quickly realized that our users who were connecting with their significant others were like, great, but you know, I go to dinner with my friends, or like, I go see a movie with my mom, or you know, they wanted to connect with their other relationships. And that's when we expanded to friends and groups. And that's where we are today.
So my burning question for you. And I love it. Because so many people, they have an idea. And they're like, oh, you know, I'd love to take this idea and do something, but where they get hung up is they aren't coders. You have a, you went to J school. So unless you're coding Python in your spare time, I don't know. You're amazing. But how did you, how did you create the beta version?
Great question. So you are correct. I am not technical, only obsessed with technology. I was able to raise the friends and family round to basically hire an agency to develop the MVP, which was, you know, very basic, we found a great partner called Y media labs that built the, you know, first version of the product. And from there, I actually found people you know, I was in a little we work, I just had my desk. And one time this guy was walking around the office and was like, does anybody need a software engineer, front end coder? And I was like, I think I do. Like, I don't even know what I need on my team. But I just had this agency build the first version of the app. Now I have this code and like, obviously, we need to start iterating and we need to start doing stuff. So he was like, Well, let me take a look at the code. And he looked at it and we both sort of fell in love with the product all over again together. And he had such great ideas. And that was you know, that was our first hire, Josh who's Still with us. And what was really cool was that he then brought on his co founder and CTO of his past startup who then joined our team as our lead backend engineer. And the team has just grown from there. But I think it's really important to, you know, if you can't raise that friends and family round or you know, you, you can't afford an agency, which of course, like I was incredibly lucky to be able to do that, you know, you have to do the Josh route, right? Like you have to find someone that's in your, in your world that is like excited about what it is you're doing. And, you know, might be willing to take sweat equity, or whatever it might be to get the product built.
So let's talk about raising money. Jordan, some people, it's easy. Some people, they're so intimidated. How did you raise that first money? Did you have like a beautiful pitch deck or an idea on a napkin?
Yeah, I mean, we had, so we had a couple of things going for us that I think helped us raise our seed round, which is that we had an audience grown already. We had an Instagram, and we had a newsletter from a prior brand I had started called Idk, Tonight, and that was purely content. That was purely like, go to dinner here and then get a cocktail after and they were, we call them date nights, and we just shared them, there was no, there was no paying for it, it was just purely to grow an audience. And we grew that audience to about 50,000 people. And I think that that showed investors that A, we know how to make great content and B we know how to put that content in front of people and have them enjoy it. And so, you know, we came armed with that as it is. But then as, I think the real reason we were able to raise is they can really sense passion for an idea. And we were not selling a little niche idea that is going to change, you know, 1% of one group's, you know, problems in the world. It was like, we want to change how people make decisions together. This is crazy and humongous. And it's not just about dinner, by the way, you know, we were pitching, like when you need to pick a mattress with your significant other like, right now Casper can target you all day long on Facebook. But at the end of the day, you have to turn to your partner and be like, do we want this mattress? So why not create a product that actually reaches both halves of the decision maker in one place. And you know, we were really pitching big, big, big, big and it was like this is going to either fail spectacularly or it's going to like work out and you were part of it. So that was really, I think what gave us the ability to raise the money. Like how big of an idea it was, how passionate I was about it and the team that we had sort of created at that point.
This is Raw and Real Entrepreneurship.
Incredible. She's the co founder of Story Tap Technologies, which is a video production company that has created and placed brand inspired videos that amass millions of views. And I was creeping the website and one of my favorite Canadian companies had a video on there, Canadian Tire, shouts out to you. And I still think in my childhood bedroom, I have a whack of Canadian Tire dollars somewhere stashed there. This co founder has been in the industry for over 25 years. And if you're seeing her on YouTube, she looks flippin amazing. And she brings a focus of empathy to her company culture. And after creating a financial book club that grew to 500 members across six countries. How do you manage that? My gosh, she created StoryTap Technologies to be the first agency of its kind to make videos for brands, companies and social media that share perspectives and experiences from across the world. And we're going to hear about what StoryTap does, which is super cool. But before we do that, my guest today, who is a fellow Canadian, so you all know I'm biased about that anyway. We may even talk about Tim Hortons and The Tragically Hip like my last Canadian show. But my guest today is the amazing the one and only Bernadette Butler. So Bernadette, thanks for being on Raw and Real Entrepreneurship.
I am proud to be here. Thanks for having me.
First question I have for you. There's this debate. Entrepreneurs are born, entrepreneurs are made. So when did you start your first business?
Like I have been hustling my entire life like literally, first time I made any money literally is grade three, like I have been hustling my entire life. And I think in corporate world, I went safely into corporate as a marketer advertising executive, but I always had a side hustle. I was always onto something creating, thinking about it, testing, learning. But I'd say my first kind of foray into business was a company I did in my 20s, which I sold, which was really fun. I did it with a friend. And it didn't last very long, but we ended up selling it. So that was good. And then I got really passionate about women and finances. So that's when I started a financial Book Club, which was incredible learnings. And then here we are with StoryTap.
Well, let me ask you this. So there's a lot of obviously, you know, I'm in AI, but I come from Marketing, and then I went into Martech. How do you think AI is going to change the marketing space?
Great question. I'm completely obsessed with it. So it starts, with our platform, and I think all tech should be looking at this is, you know, they've open API, so you can easily dive into that tech and look to how it would easily benefit your platform, your concept, your business, which we've done and did it in a week. Like it wasn't tough, and it's incredible. But I do think that disruption, we're just starting to see it. It's replacing, obviously, blog content. I mean, a lot of, I think some writers are upset and you know, questioning the validity of what's been sped up. But the reality is, as a founder, as an owner of a company, you're like, wow, like, this is incredible stuff. Look how fast it can be produced. I think other things. And it really depends on their business model. But it really is impacting so many different layers in a business, that I think it's hard at this stage. I was just talking with a girlfriend last night, it's like we're watching, like, the world change. It was like, you know, we're watching, we're all blockbuster. We're starting to see Netflix show up, you know, from AI. And it's really, really exciting. I think there's a lot of businesses that are going to be hurt. It may not survive it. But I think we're moving to an exciting place.
Agreed. And it's about adaptability, right. So one of the things, and you mentioned blog content, and I know like that, it's interesting to take a look at if you like, I have GPT and then I'm using the V four version. So write a blog on, you know, whatever, the metaverse and, you know, whatever you want to write a blog on, and it's going to produce it and you are still going to in the current state, it's I'd have to validate those resources. But in terms of taking off the heavy lifting. So I'll give you another example. I've been, we'll talk about this in a minute so you know exactly what this is like. So I'm traveling a ton right now. And so the show is something, I used to be in media when I was in Canada. And it's just I love to get to sit down with fellow founders and just like hit the record button instead of eating lunch. Like let's just talk right. And so I missed a show because I was, I had to do a last minute trip. So I was like, my team was like, can you just do an episode where you talk freely about AI and entrepreneurship? And I'm like, Yeah, but I was really tired. So I went into GPT 4 and I said, Give me podcast, give me ways in which AI, generative AI can benefit entrepreneurs. So it listed out, it gives the whole podcast content. And the episode of that show was called GPT helped me.
I sat down with a friend and I had an idea and I'm like, let's just ask ChaGPT for the business plan. Let's get a competitive analysis like boom, boom, you're in. I don't even know about these competitors. And it's like, it's all, everything's becoming flat. Like, everything's accessible for anybody with that technology. And I think, yeah, it's I think it's really exciting. I mean, you can, you can just run so much faster. Yes, you have to validate it for sure. But it gives you some structure and reduces the nuts and bolts of it. So to speak. Yes. validate it. Yes. Call us competitors. Yes, make sure that pricing is up to date. But I mean, when it took 16 seconds for both of those, I mean, it was incredible.
I have a funny story, and then. The shows goes all around the world. So I'll just close like we're having a secret conversation. But so we were you know, we're in, we're in fundraising mode, right? So I didn't, I didn't have, I didn't tell GPT like what the company was or whatever. But I was like, Why should an investor invest in computer vision at the edge for retail. And so GPT does this whole long thing about these are the reasons why and this is where it's going. And it was perfect, because I use some of those talking points when I have the conversation. And for some of those things, I think it's, I think it's absolutely huge. Let me ask you, you know, thinking about AI and thinking about StoryTap. How do you think AI is going to shift your business in the next five years?
Yeah, I think it's really interesting. You know, what we're all about is ,and I like to land this plane first is really, consumer behavior has changed. We are not reading online, we are watching. And if you want to buy it, fix it make it, build it, we're watching. And so our technology, our platform, really helps brands get into the video first world. And, you know, if we're not reading anymore, we're all going to YouTube and Tiktok or binge watching, we're binge watching on our couches, we're binge watching on our phones, we love it. If you want to buy something, you're going to watch three to five videos to make a decision. And so if consumer behavior is changing at that rate, then businesses need to change at that rate. So we get really pumped, we meet with these massive brands who are like, let's do it, let's have binge worthy, a binge worthy experience. You know, even if it's your FAQ page, let's get it going. Let's you know, real people telling real stories across the board at scale and high volumes is going to do wonders. And so for AI immediately for us, one of our solutions is all about honestly, your FAQ page and turning that into a powerhouse for SEO but also reducing call center volume. It's using real people, real staff, call it you know, for a lot of our bigger brands, their call center, their technicians doing video answers, which becomes not only incredibly helpful, which we're all data driven, so the data is telling us that, but one area where some brands got stuck was, well, what are the video questions they need right now. And it's like, so that's where we implemented. Our AI is like in a nanosecond, a brand can be in the back end of StoryTap and pull all of the questions people are asking about right now about your brand, those videos get produced immediately. And you're winning on video SEO, like being discovered, because you know, Google's doubled down on video too. So they care a lot about video. So I think that is the first step for us. But it's so much more I can see in the future in terms of consumer behavior. And when I say that, I also, there's this, you're a marketer. So you know this shift of most brands often think about their brand is I have five ICPs, I have five customer profiles I market to, I target. But this new world is infinite, every person that comes to your site is looking for relevant, personalized information video to make a confident decision. So with that in mind, you know, what I'm gonna watch isn't what you're gonna watch. We're not even in the same location, you know, I am certainly not gonna watch a 20 year old guy talk about the lawnmower I'm gonna buy. I'm gonna want to see what, a 40 year old woman in Vancouver. Can she pull the thing, does it start? Like, all the things that go into making a purchase decision that are very specific to me. So I think AI is going to play a really interesting role for our company, potentially, in terms of consumer behavior, how fast that moves, and how quickly videos are served up to really make sure that A- the consumers are, you know, the right videos are being served up at the right time. And that, and that level of sophistication around our algorithms. Right now, I'd say we're here and we're excited to be getting to this point.
So going back in time, a lot of people have ideas about starting businesses, but very few actually execute on them. And so you, you have this massive financial book club. Okay. And then you say, Well, I want to start this company StoryTap. So how did you go from ideation to execution? And what was the initial sort of beginning idea? Because obviously, here you are, over eight years later, and the company's got massive logos, but how did you, how did you start it?
Oh, this is a good gnarly question. You know, it's interesting with the book club, in that I started it. And for all you listeners out there, this is raw. My dad died. And I was making incredible money in marketing, and I had nothing to show for it. And I went, why exactly that? I manage 6 million a quarter. What's wrong with me personally? And so I had this vision of like, Oh, I just don't like to open my visa bill. I don't like to manage my money. Oh, oh, okay. I can fix that. And so I started on this journey of it's kind of a guilt trip, book club for women specifically. So we read 35 books. I mean, it's not operating now. But we read so many. And to me, it was so clear of where I needed to go, personally, both for fulfillment but for the goals that I have financial goals I wanted to achieve. And then in and around when I lost my dad, I got really excited about personal video stories. And so the inception of StoryTap was life stories. So capturing life stories from real people. And I'd still think we're a bit early with that but you know, the beauty was actually got my dad's life story on video. And so when my kids watch his life story, they think we're Skyping we're on FaceTime, but he's, he's been dead 10 years. So like, what a magical gift. Let's do that. But you know, all of that pain and suffering and learning, like, crazy amounts of learning, took me to this place of, I'm a marketer. I, this is who I am. And so we started with life stories. It is the reason our Tech has won so many patents, it is the reason because we, I literally would sit in Starbucks, and I would approach you know, elderly folks walking in, seniors and like, can I buy you coffee? Can you point on my wireframes and show me like, I wanted them to walk through what they would do and how they would record video. So it was so easy. You know, that demographic doesn't want to learn tech, they don't want to know it's tech. So that is part of the reason it's so fabulous. But, so my co founder stepped back when we were a year into life stories and went, Oh my gosh, like, I'm sorry. To me, the biggest pain I could possibly solve is I have been in marketing my entire life producing a fake message for a fake brand with fake people. You know, I take 27 weeks, 10 weeks, 27 weeks to produce a $300,000 ad that runs once, you know, like, and it's fake. It's all manufactured. And so I thought, like, imagine a world if we could flip this. We could take this technology, and we can help middle class, anybody who's buying online, make a competent buying decision by seeing themselves, by seeing people like them, who are opening it, like playing with it. And any story they're in we work with businesses or brands that are helping to educate about kidney donation. So we're capturing stories about what it's like to donate a kidney, receive a kidney. I mean, that is incredible. Like their KPIs are how many people are interested in donating a kidney? Right? Like, it's incredible what a video story or you know, binging relevant video stories can do or a person who's interested to make, how to research and or to buy something.
So how did you get the capital to start? Storytime?
So yeah, good question. And when you talked about breastfeeding, I actually breastfed at a VC meeting, not intentionally, I literally forgot my kid. And then the screaming baby showed up. Not my, not my best moment, but I rocked it. So it was fine.
Raw and Real Entrepreneurship. And I just want to say that this is the first time we, no, there, we, No, no, this is the first one out of VC meeting that we've had breastfeeding at the VC meeting.
I you know, for moms, I was, I was in my skinny jeans for the first time. It was, it was a, you know, with that, you put on a little thing to cover yourself, and you just keep on going. So happy capital, Yeah. So for, for me, my story started with, you know, a four month old and a two year old. And I'm ready, like, look, I'm doing this thing and my husband's like, ah, like the babies and like, we're just gonna figure this out. And so, so ready, and I'm starting to make coffee appointments, as you do with potential of a time, staff, employees. I had no concept of a co founder at that stage. It was just me, an Excel sheet and some wireframes, I'm doing this. And I ended up meeting a gentleman at the time, I thought I need a CFO. Literally had no concept of what it was like to do startup. But that was where my headspace was at the time. Anyways, he was my first chat. He said, like, I love this so much. I want to be your first angel. Here's a couple of 100,000. And it actually ended up being 100,000. In the end, he kind of backed out a little bit but and all of a sudden, when you get your first check, you're like, oh shoot, this is a business like, I got it. Like terms have to be established. I've got to find a lawyer. And all these things had to happen immediately. And I'm learning what a safe is, and what are the complexities of this and you know, got a cap table now. And so I was kind of a way to the races. And then I started to interview developers. And I wasn't looking for a co founder, but ended up meeting one who I hired, a genius, Shawn Brax, who's my co founder, we met and I hired him to do CX. So just customer experience of this product that we were on well under way of building. And then he kind of said, you know, I'm a full stack developer. I'm like, Oh, are you sure? He's like, Yeah, pretty sure. I'm like, oh, but I had him talk to my developer. My developer was like, no, he's really good. Like, he's, he's like, really good. I was like, Oh, I'm like trying to book a co founder. He's like, Yes, I'm like done. And we honestly work beautifully together. It's one incredible. We're whatever, eight years later, and I we've never even had an argument like kind of awesome. But yeah, that's how I started and we bootstrapped. So we bootstrapped for a long time. I would say I have heartedly tried to raise capital but really bought into this. Like, it's really hard for women and I have little kids, and I'm like, let's just sales, sales solves all, you can sell. And I didn't know how to sell on the market, I had no idea how to sell and figure that out too. But like, then you do. And, you know, and then for us, we didn't, we didn't even contemplate taking venture until the pandemic, when we started to see some hyper growth. And we were like, Okay, now it's time.
So that is a very interesting time in the growth of the company. Because it's this critical mass where the, just to explain to the people who are not quite at that point with their business yet. So there's like a lot of interest and a lot of customer activity, the sales pipeline is really robust. And you're looking at it going, Okay, I have enough wisdom now to know for me to fulfill on all of this. I need capital, I need more talent, I need you know, whatever it is that you need to be able to do it. And so that round for you, because you had bootstrapped, was kind of like a not quite in A round, but kind of a you know, what, what did you call it?
Yeah, it was weird. It's like a called it a Seed. And for, I will tell you, the headspace we were at. We had that stage had a lifestyle business, we had a small team, were paying everybody, we're growing. But then when I really got quiet with my ambition, and I would say partially Shawn, but I'd say mostly at night, I was like, I'm gonna land on the moon. Like, I'm not doing this for lifestyle. I'm doing this to do it. i Let's do it. And so that's when we decided capital. But then if you're bootstrapped, which, you know, it's a double edged sword, because in early days, you're hungry, like you need to put food, I need to cover daycare, like, I have got to figure out how to sell because my daycare cost me two grand a month, and I needed to sell. So for us, when we thought about venture, it was critical that is about fit. And so for me, it was just honestly, I get on calls, I'm like, nope, like not interested. If you're asking me questions about how I balanced my motherhood and the tech. I'm like, whatever next, or I get on calls, and they're only talking to my co founder. And he's like, she's the CEO. That's her, next. And so we really, I feel very lucky about with two Co leads with our venture round, and they're both two people that I would you know, go for dinner within a heartbeat, I would have over on Christmas Eve, you know, and you know, like they're just incredible humans that really get what we're up to.
This is Raw and Real Entrepreneurship. Everyone, this has been another episode of Raw and Real Entrepreneurship. And thank you so much for listening. You guys are why I do what I do. And I'd love to hear from you. So with that, God bless, go rock your day. And I will see you in the next episode.
Hey, this is Susan and thanks so much for listening to this episode on Raw and Real Entrepreneurship. If this episode or any episode has been helpful to you, you've gotten at least one solid tip from myself or my guests, I would love it if you would leave a five star review where ever you listen to podcasts. After you leave your review. Go ahead and email reviews@Susansly.com. Let us know where you left a review. And if I read your review on air, you could get a $50 amazon gift card and we would so appreciate it because reviews do help boost the show and get this message all over the world. If you're interested in any of the resources we discussed on the show, go to Susansly.com That's where all the show notes live. And with that, go out there, rock your day, God bless. I will see you in the next episode
Are you currently an employee looking to start your own business? Maybe you've been thinking about it for a while and you're just not sure where to start? Well, my course Employee to Entrepreneur combines my decades of experience as an entrepreneur with proven methods, techniques and skills to help you take that leap and start your own business. This course is self paced, Learn on Demand and comes with an incredible workbook. And that will allow you to go through this content piece by piece by piece, absorb it, take action and then go on to the next module. So check out my course on Susansly.com Employee to Entrepreneur